The Supreme Court has been Republican for 50 years.

Conservative news tries to portray conservatives as being underdogs, fighting against their liberal overlords. That is backwards.

The last time the Democrats held a majority in the Supreme Court was June 23, 1969. The Republicans gained a 5-4 majority on June 9, 1970, and have held a strong majority (usually 6-3 or 7-2) for the last fifty years. At one point, their majority was 8-0.

From 1991 to 1993, Byron White was the only Democrat on the Supreme Court. He resigned on June 28 and was not replaced until August 10. His replacement was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (who died last Friday). She was the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She would remain the only Democrat on the court until she was joined by Stephen Breyer in 1994.

How did it get so lopsided? Maybe it was luck. From 1977 to 2017, a span of 40 years, we had a Democratic president for 20 of those years and a Republican president for 20 of those years. During that time, there were 14 Supreme Court vacancies that got filled. All things being equal, you’d expect seven Democrats and seven Republicans. But it was actually ten Republicans and only four Democrats. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s back up to 2009.

When Obama was sworn in as President, in January of 2009, the Supreme Court was a Republican majority, 7-2 (the two Democrats being Ginsburg and Breyer). On June 29 of that year, Republican Justice David Souter retired, at the age of 69. Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to replace him. Exactly one year later, Republican John Paul Stevens also retired, and was replaced by Elena Kagan. For the first time in 40 years, the Republican majority was back to only 5-4. And Obama was only in his second year as President. When Obama was reelected in 2012, some Democrats were hopeful that they might take a majority in the Supreme Court, for the first time in over 40 years. It was just a matter of waiting to see which Justice would be the next to die or retire. There was about a 50-50 chance it would be a Republican. Then, on February 13, 2016, Republican Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly. Obama had more than 11 months left in his term as President. The Democrats could finally have a turn at being in the majority of the Supreme Court.

This wouldn’t be much of a victory, though. Of all the Republicans on the court at that time, Scalia was known as being the most centrist of the bunch. He often voted with the Democrats anyway. Obama was known for being a centrist Democrat, and he nominated centrist Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. They’d be replacing a centrist with another centrist.

But the Senate was controlled by the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell. The Republicans decided to block the nomination, to prevent the Democrats from gaining a majority in the Supreme Court. As Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell set the agenda for the Senate, and he made sure that Merrick Garland did not even have confirmation hearings, let alone a vote. McConnell justified this move by saying that it was unfair (debatable) and unprecedented (not true) to confirm a Supreme Court Justice in an election year. The Republicans blocked Garland’s confirmation, leaving the Supreme Court tied 4-4 for more than a year, from February of 2016 to April of 2017.

Of course, there’s nothing in the Constitution that says you can’t fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. But there’s also nothing in the Constitution that says the Senate can’t capriciously decide to block a Supreme Court nomination, for whatever reason they choose. The precise justification that McConnell used wasn’t particularly important.

But it did show that he’s a hypocrite.

Because, four years later, here we are. Mitch McConnell is eager to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just 6 weeks before election day, and after early voting has already started. Now he says that filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year is fine, because the Senate is controlled by the same political party as the President.

As it stands right now, the Republicans have a 5-3 majority in the Supreme Court. The outcome of this nomination will decide whether the Republicans increase their majority to 6-3 or decrease to 5-4 (which is what it was before RBG died). In neither case would the Democrats gain a majority.

These are the stakes for which Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party are willing to go back on their word. They said it was precedent that you shouldn’t replace a Supreme Court Justice in an election year. They said the people should have a voice in choosing the next President and that should be the President who fills the vacancy. In particular, Senator Lindsey Graham said, in 2016, “We are setting a precedent today, Republicans are.” and if a similar situation arose, “you can use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.” In October 2018, Graham said, in an interview, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait till the next election.” Not only has the primary process started, early voting has already started. The election is happening right now. But Graham and the other Republicans have decided to forget about what’s fair and just do what they want to do, which is to regain a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court.

I would like to remind you that, in six of the last seven Presidential elections, there have been more votes for Democrats than Republicans. The will of the people, as expressed at the ballot box, shows a clear majority for Democrats over Republicans. And yet, the Republicans have held a majority in the Supreme Court for fifty years. And now, they are willing to fight dirty to expand their majority and try to hang onto it for another fifty years.

Oh, by the way, the Republicans also control the state government in 2/3 of the states. And they control the Senate. And they have an advantage in the Electoral College. Despite the fact that only 30% of Americans identify as “Republican” and they consistently get less than 50% of the votes.

That’s messed up.

COVID-19 update #4

As of Sept 15th, we are rapidly closing in on 200,000 deaths in the US.

I’m sticking with the prediction I made in April. I said the over/under was 400,000 deaths by December 31st, but it could be as low as 40,000 or as high as 4 million. In May, I further narrowed it down by saying it could be as low as 120,000 or as high as 2 million. In July, I narrowed it down again, saying it could be as low as 200,000 or as high as 1 million, with the over/under still at 400,000 official deaths.

In the second half of August, cases per day were dropping, and it looked like the second wave was subsiding. Then the schools started opening up. There’s been a noticeable uptick since Labor Day. We could be looking at a third wave. I still say the over/under is 400,000 by December 31st.

The Burden of Proof… (again)

I hate to keep coming back to it, but… I often hear atheists say that the burden of proof is on the person making a claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That which can be presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Then the believers say, “nuh uh.”

So… what’s an extraordinary claim? The believers say that the existence of god isn’t extraordinary. The atheists say it is. Okay, now what?

Look at it this way: Each of us has a map inside our heads that helps us navigate the real world. When the map doesn’t match reality, that’s insanity. But none of us have perfect maps. We constantly need to update our maps when we find out they don’t match reality. If I thought John Candy was in The Emperor’s New Groove, and then I found out it was actually John Goodman, I need to update my map. But it’s a very minor update. It doesn’t require a lot of convincing for me to make the change. However, if you tell me that there’s no such thing as movies and all my memories of having seen movies are false memories, you’re asking me to make a huge adjustment to my map. Anytime person “A” tries to convince person “B” that their map needs to be corrected, the amount of convincing required is proportional how radical the change is.

And, there we have it. My internal map is a world where miracles don’t exist and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. I’m convinced that my map matches reality quite well. Then I meet someone whose internal maps says angels and demons are real, magic happens all the time, and miracles are a dime a dozen. They are convinced that their maps matches reality. For me to convince them that their maps is wildly inaccurate would be just as difficult as them convincing me that my map is wildly inaccurate. So… who has the burden of proof? I don’t know. Maybe that’s a meaningless question.

Bad creationist logic leads to obvious falsehoods.

You can often recognize bad logic by asking where else could we apply that same logic and have it lead to an obviously wrong answer.

You don’t believe in God? Well, you can’t prove there isn’t a God. You don’t believe in The Loch Ness Monster? Well, you can’t prove there isn’t a Loch Ness Monster.

Obviously, the logic of if you can’t prove it’s false then it must be true is bad logic, as seen by the fact that this logic leads to belief in almost anything. You can’t prove I’m not a wizard, therefore you should believe me when I tell you that I’m a wizard, right?

You don’t believe the universe was designed specifically for us? The odds are about a billion to one against the universe turning out the way it did, therefore it could not have happened by chance. Someone made it happen that way on purpose. Now, let’s go find the person who won yesterday’s Lottery. You don’t believe the Lottery was designed specifically for you? The odds are about a billion to one against the Lottery turning out the way it did, therefore it could not have happened by chance. Someone made it happen that way on purpose.

Obviously, the idea that something is unlikely doesn’t prove that it was done on purpose. It’s easy to find unlikely things that actually happened by chance.

You don’t believe in God? How can you stand to live in a world where there is no God? There must be a God. You don’t believe in unicorns? How can you stand to live in a world where there are no unicorns? There must be unicorns.

This is the “appeal to consequences” fallacy. It basically says if I don’t like it, it can’t be true. Our preferences don’t affect the facts.

You don’t believe in Heaven and Hell? What if you’re wrong? You’re better off believing. If you’re right, you get big rewards; if you’re wrong, you lost nothing. You don’t believe in Santa Claus? What if you’re wrong? You’re better off believing. If you’re right, you get big rewards; if you’re wrong, you lost nothing.

This is known as Pascal’s Wager. There are many other ways to debunk Pascal’s Wager, such as asking what if you picked the wrong religion? Another of my favorites is Keight’s Wager, which questions the premise that “belief” is the way to earn a ticket to Heaven. What if it turns out that non-belief is what earns a ticket to Heaven? You think God likes rewards gullible people and punishes skeptics. Isn’t it possible that God would reward skeptics and punish gullible people? If that’s the case, you’re better off not believing.

You don’t believe in miracles? If you’ve only seen 0.1% of the world, then miracles could be hiding in the other 99.9%. You don’t believe in Bigfoot? If you’ve only seen 0.1% of the world, then Bigfoot could be hiding in the other 99.9%.

This is pretty similar to if you can’t prove it false, then it’s true, as discussed above.

You don’t believe in Jesus? Then how do you explain the fact that millions of people, many of them smarter than you, do believe in Jesus? You don’t believe in Astrology? Then how do you explain the fact that millions of people, many of them smarter than you, do believe in Astrology?

This is the “appeal to popularity” fallacy. It overlooks the possibility that large numbers of people could be wrong.

You don’t believe in Near Death Experiences? Do you think all those people are liars? If it’s all made up, how could their stories be so similar? You don’t believe in Alien Abductions? Do you think all those people are liars? If it’s all made up, how could their stories be so similar?

Truth and lies aren’t the only two alternatives. Another possibility is that the witnesses are telling the truth about what they remember but their memories are false. This possibility is even more likely in situations where the person’s brain was starved for oxygen. As for the stories being similar, that could be because most of them saw the same movies or read the same books.

If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? If Americans came from England, why is there still an England?

The people who live in England right now, and the people who live in America right now, have common ancestors. The same works for humans and monkeys, they have common ancestors. America isn’t better than England and it wasn’t England’s destiny to “become” America. They just branch off. The same works for humans and monkeys. Humans aren’t better than monkeys and it wasn’t monkeys’ destiny to “become” humans. That’s not how evolution works.

Just because you don’t understand how evolution works doesn’t mean that it’s false. And even if it were false, that wouldn’t prove that your creation story is true. Showing that an answer is false doesn’t make your answer true. For any given question, there are thousands of possible answers, and thousands more that we haven’t thought of yet. In many cases, the most honest answer is simply, “we don’t know (yet).”

As of 1-Sep-2020, my Eddington Number is now 45

I can say that because I have ridden my bicycle 45 miles (or more) on 45 different days (or more).

Increasing your Eddington Number is pretty hard to do. Suppose you have very little experience with long-distance bicycling. Say you’ve never gone more than a few miles in any given day. You decide to ride 10 miles each day on 10 different days. That would be a big challenge. You would be proud of your accomplishment when you reached that goal. Then you might start thinking, “Hey, I could have done 12 miles on 12 days.” The hard part is that all your 10-mile rides don’t count for the 12-mile goal! You basically have to start over. Ride 12 miles each day; do that 12 times. Now your Eddington Number is 12. And if you want to reach 13… you pretty much have to start over, again.

A more realistic example would be to start by riding 1 mile on the 1st day, 2 miles on the 2nd day (the days don’t have to be consecutive), 3 miles on the 3rd day, et cetera. When you finish your 21st bike ride, you rode 21 miles that day and your Eddington Number is 11 because you’ve ridden 11 miles on 11 different days.

Three of my 45+ rides were between 45.0 and 45.9 miles, so they won’t count towards 46+. So I’ll need at least four more 46+ rides to increase my Eddington number to 46. Then I’ll need at least four more to reach 47.

Do good things and good things happen?

I recently read an interesting idea. The USA has a huge split in ideology. The so-called “American Dream” is at the heart of it.

I have frequently struggled to come up with a definition of what left and right means in politics. Here are three answers I came up with:

  1. People on the right want things to stay the same. People on the left want things to change.
  2. People on the right are concerned with preserving what’s good about the past. People on the left are concerned with improving the future.
  3. People on the left believe We’re all in this together. People on the right believe It’s every man for himself.*

Now, I’m convinced there is a fourth way to describe left vs right.

4. People on the right believe success is simply the result of hard work, talent, and good moral character. People on the left believe that it isn’t so simple. Sometimes good people fail and sometimes bad people succeed.

This is a huge problem, although it might not be obvious at first.

If you firmly believe that good people succeed and bad people fail, then it logically follows that people who fail must be bad. Either that, or someone is cheating. Poor people are poor because that’s what they deserve. Maybe it’s because they made bad choices and wasted their money. Maybe it’s because they are lazy or unintelligent. And in the rare cases where someone who is good ends up poor, it’s because they were cheated somehow. People who are rich deserve to be rich. They are the most talented, the smartest, and the best. In the rare cases where someone bad ends up rich, well, they won’t stay rich for very long.

People on the right who are poor rarely conclude that they deserve to be poor because of their own character flaws. They conclude that they are being cheated, It must be the fault of the left — always trying to subvert the natural order of things, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. This is why poor people on the right vote for policies that favor the rich, seemingly against their own self-interest. They consider their own poverty to be a temporary mistake which will soon be corrected.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing the right. I myself have struggled with this viewpoint. When my finances are good, I tend to pat myself on the back for being clever and hard-working. When my finances are bad, I tend to complain about bad luck and being treated unfairly. I think all of us do this, to varying degrees.

I read about a sociology experiment where they asked volunteers to play a game of Monopoly. In some of the games, all the players started out with the same amount of money and the winner was usually a person who had played Monopoly many times before. When asked why they won, the winner would say things like, “I’m smart. I have lots of experience. I made good decisions.” In other games, one player was given twice as much money as the other players at the start. The player who started with twice the money almost always won. But when asked why they won, the winner would still say things like, “I’m smart. I have lots of experience. I made good decisions.” They downplayed their starting advantage, or ignored it completely.

There’s an old expression about rich people who were born rich. We say, “He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.” But the dark secret is that all of us are like this. I can sneer at people who were born on third base but the fact is that I was born on second base and I think I hit a double. Honestly, a great deal of my financial success has much to do with things that are beyond my control.

When my business was succeeding and some of my competitors failed, I won an award and had an article written about me in a trade magazine. I tried to be humble and say that much of the credit went to my employees. But inside, I was thinking that I deserved it because I was smart, talented, and moral. I was invited to present a seminar about running a successful business, in which I quoted Robert A. Heinlein, who said, “There is no such thing as luck. There is either sufficient or insufficient preparation to deal with a statistical universe.” I said that the success of my business was more than being at the right place at the right time; it was being prepared for the moment when it came along. Three years later, when my business was struggling, I found myself thinking that, honestly, my prior success had a lot to do with the fact that I’m a middle-aged white man. What I called “prepared” really boiled down to the fact that I looked the part of a trustworthy business owner. Society expects business owners to be men; I’m a man. Society expects business owners to be white; I’m white. Society expects business owners to be middle-aged; I’m middle-aged. None of that was in my control. I suppose I can take credit for the fact that I’m well-educated and don’t have any face tattoos. But even that is largely a result of the family I was born into, which was also out of my control.

I’m reminded of the time Republicans jumped on President Obama when he said, “You didn’t build that.” Here’s the whole quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t – look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.) If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

The Republicans quoted over and over the four words right in the middle, “you didn’t build that” and mocked Obama for suggesting that success doesn’t come from hard work, talent, and good moral character. At the time, I thought they were being silly by deliberately trying to make Obama sound bad, just for the sake of scoring political points. Now, I realize that they were defending the key point of their ideology. The right believes that it’s very simple: do good things and good things happen. Obama said it’s not that simple. They had to respond with, “oh yes it is simple”. Because that’s the fundamental difference between left and right.

The right believes that, on a fair and level playing field, the best players will always win, regardless of who has the better coaches or more expensive equipment. Therefore, if good people are losing, it must be because the playing field isn’t level, the game isn’t fair, the other team is cheating, or the referee is biased. People on the left say things like, “we need to help poor people” and then they are confused when the right doesn’t agree. The left thinks this means the right is heartless and uncaring. But that’s not how the right sees it. They hear, “We should rig the game in favor of the team that is losing. We should punish the team that is winning.” They see this as an attack on the game, an attack on morality itself.

And this explains why the right seems to have so many racists. When the left says, “black people are poor because of slavery, Jim Crow laws, bad schools, and redlining, therefore we should talk about how to fix the damage”, the right hears “black people lost games in the past therefore we should rig future games in their favor”. When the left says “affirmative action”, the right hears “reverse racism”. This creates an environment where a person who believes in equality can stand right next to a person who believes in white supremacy and the two are almost impossible to distinguish from each other. White supremacists believe that white men win the game because white men deserve to win. People on the right believe that whoever is winning the game wins because they deserve to win. It’s a perfect fit.

I don’t know where to go from here. The gap between the left and right is much bigger than I ever imagined. It won’t be enough to say, “let’s try to find common ground.” We need to address the fundamental split. How do you do that? When one person says, “it’s very simple” and the other says, “no, it’s complicated”, and the first replies, “it SHOULD be simple”… how do you resolve that?

I don’t know. I wish I did.

* I wish I had a gender-neutral way of restating #3 but all my attempts so far just don’t sound as good. But, I digress.

Waiting

ALICE: Is this the right bus stop for the number 24 bus?

BOB: I don’t believe in buses.

ALICE: Then why are you sitting on a bench at a bus stop?

BOB: I’m just waiting for a unicorn.

ALICE: A unicorn? They have those around here? I thought they were just myths.

BOB: Unicorns are everywhere. Only an idiot would claim that unicorns don’t exist.

ALICE: How many unicorns have you seen?

BOB: A unicorn visited me in a dream when I was 12.

ALICE: Have you ever seen a unicorn while you’re awake?

BOB: No, but my friend Carlos told me that ten of his friends saw a whole herd of unicorns in the summer of 1969.

ALICE: Were they on drugs at the time?

BOB: Yes, but that has nothing to do with it. The unicorns couldn’t be hallucinations. How could ten people all have the same hallucination? Ten people telling ten stories proves that it was real.

ALICE: But you don’t have ten stories. You have one story with ten people in it. That’s not the same thing.

BOB: It’s good enough for me. I believe that if I wait long enough, a unicorn will arrive and take me to Atlantis. The unicorn in my dream told me to wait at this specific street corner. So, I come here every day and wait.

ALICE: You do this every day?

BOB: Well, not every day. About twice a week. The rest of the time, I have to work. And sometimes I’m sick or on vacation.

ALICE: What if the unicorn comes by on a day when you aren’t here?

BOB: That can’t happen.

ALICE: Why not?

BOB: Because the unicorn in my dream told me that it will meet me here and take me to Atlantis. And unicorns never lie. So it must be true. You should wait with me. You want to go to Atlantis, don’t you?

ALICE: I’m just waiting for the number 24 bus.

BOB: You’re wasting your time. Buses aren’t real.

ALICE: Haven’t you ever ridden on a bus? Or at least seen one?

BOB: Oh, sure, I used to ride a bus to school. But then I found out that bus drivers are liars, so I stopped riding buses. Unicorns never lie.

ALICE: But you know buses are real, right?

BOB: You can’t rely on buses. You never know where they will show up.

ALICE: Well, I’m pretty sure a bus will show up here, because that sign right there says “BUS STOP”.

BOB: That sign wasn’t written by unicorns, so you can’t rely on it. The only way to get to Atlantis is by having faith in unicorns.

ALICE: I don’t rely on faith.

BOB: Yes you do.

ALICE: No, I’m waiting for a bus.

BOB: You have faith that the bus will arrive. But the bus isn’t here right now and that sign could be wrong. So you’re just having faith in the bus. It’s the exact same as my faith in the unicorns.

ALICE: No, I have confidence that a bus will arrive because I’ve seen lots of buses and ridden lots of buses and they usually show up when they are supposed to and they usually get me where I want to go.

BOB: Usually? That’s not good enough. You obviously have more faith than I do. I know with 100% certainty that a unicorn will come and take me to Atlantis. And I know it’s true because the unicorn in my dream told me so, and unicorns never lie. You put your faith in bus drivers, and sometimes they lie.

ALICE: Oh, look. Here’s my bus. Number 24. Bye.

BOB: (watching the bus drive away) That poor, deluded woman. I feel so sad for her. She’ll never get to Atlantis.

Covid-19 Update #3

According to covidtracking.com, the USA is up to 161,373 deaths, as of August 15th. According to Google and Wikipedia, it’s 169K. I’m sticking with the prediction I made in April. I said the over/under was 400,000 deaths by December 31st, but it could be as low as 40,000 or as high as 4 million. In May, I further narrowed it down by saying it could be as low as 120,000 or as high as 2 million. In July, I narrowed it down again, saying it could be as low as 200,000 or as high as 1 million, with the over/under still at 400,000 official deaths. Lately, we’ve had about a thousand deaths per day, so we’re about a month away from breaking 200,000 deaths.

I still say the over/under is 400,000.

But there’s a wide range of possible outcomes: it could be anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million.

It’s really hard to make a prediction right now because the trend line keeps changing. From mid-April to late May, the daily death rate was dropping and the overall infection rate was dropping too. Then, right around Memorial Day weekend, people stopped sheltering in place and went outside and traveled and started going back to bars and churches. Almost overnight, the infection rate shot back up again. It was climbing steeply until mid-July, then flattened out around 65,000 cases per day, then started dropping again. Right now it’s around 55,000 cases per day and it looks like it may have flattened out. It’s really hard to say whether we’ve hit a plateau and it will stay at 55,000 per day, or this could be an early sign that it’s about to start going up again, or maybe this is just a blip and it will resume dropping next week. It’s hard to say. Meanwhile, the death rate has been lagging behind the infection rate by about 2-3 weeks. It peaked around 2,000 per day in mid-April, then dropped slowly and bottomed out just before July 4th, at about 500 deaths per day. But it’s been climbing ever since and right now (mid-August), it’s around 1,300 per day. But remember it lags behind infections, which peaked about 3 weeks ago, so very likely the death rate will be dropping a little bit in the coming week. What happens after that? It’s really hard to say.

My optimistic projection is that infections continue to drop and deaths start dropping again, which puts us around 240,000 deaths by December 31st 2020. My pessimistic projection is that infections are going back up and will get worse as more and more schools open up, so the death rate will also go up again, and we end up with about half a million deaths by December 31st.

Back in March, I predicted it would be January 2021 when we get a vaccine. I’m sticking with that prediction. Unfortunately, polling suggests that only about half the population actually wants to get vaccinated. I’m not sure that will be enough. Russia announced that they have a vaccine, but most doctors are skeptical about whether that vaccine is safe and/or effective. Six months just isn’t enough time to develop a safe and effective vaccine. Historically, it takes more like 18 months. The USA is currently on a fast track to get it done in only 12 months. That’s about the best we can hope for.

Covid-19 update #2

As of July 15th, we’re up to 140,000 deaths in the US (official). I’m sticking with my prediction that I made in April. I said the over/under was 400,000 deaths by December 31st, but it might be as low as 40,000 or as high as 4 million. In May, I further narrowed it down by saying it could be as low as 120,000 or as high as 2 million. We broke 120,000 a couple weeks ago. I’ll narrow it down further now. I’ll say it could be as low as 200,000 or as high as 1 million, and the over/under is still 400,000 official deaths.

In June, I noted that the daily numbers had started going back up again after Memorial Day and I said it remains to be seen whether the second hump will be bigger or smaller than the first one. Well, it’s pretty clear now that the second hump is indeed bigger than the first. The question now is will it be 2x bigger, 4x bigger, 8x bigger, or what? I haven’t seen any definite signs of the growth rate slowing down. It’s likely that we still haven’t reached the halfway point yet.

The daily death toll has been a bit lower, but it’s starting to come back up. This makes sense because deaths tend to lag a few weeks behind cases.

Also, keep in mind that the actual deaths are likely to be a multiple of the official deaths. My estimate is 2-1 ratio. For one thing, when the hospitals are overrun with Covid-19 patients, more people will die indirectly because they had some other illness and couldn’t get treatment. Also, the actual number of infected people is likely to be an even bigger multiple of the official cases, because lots of people have such mild symptoms that they don’t get diagnosed or tested. My estimate is 5-1 ratio. The current numbers say 140,000 dead out of 3.7 million cases. But the actual numbers are probably 280,000 dead out of 18 million cases. When I said the over/under is 400,000 dead by Dec. 31st, I meant the official count. The actual number is likely double that.

And Dec. 31st isn’t the end. This will probably keep going until we either get a vaccine (Spring of 2021) or reach herd immunity, which would kick in when over half the population has antibodies, 165 million cases. If I’m right about the 5-1 ratio, that’ll happen when we hit about 13 million official cases, which I expect to be around December 31st. But that doesn’t mean it suddenly slams to a halt on January 1st. It means the infection rate starts slowing down because there are fewer and fewer people left who haven’t been infected yet. Without a vaccine, we could see 13 million cases in 2020 and another 2 million cases in 2021 (official), indicating 175 million people got the disease. If 0.5% of them die from it, that’s nearly a million dead.

We still have a long way to go.

Wear your mask and stay 6 feet apart. Don’t do it for yourself, do it for the other people around you. We’re all in this together.

Covid-19 update

As of June 15th, we’re up to 115,000 deaths in the US (official). I’m sticking with my prediction that I made in April. I said the over/under was 400,000 deaths by December 31st, but it might be as low as 40,000 or as high as 4 million. In May, further narrowed it down by saying it could be as low as 120,000 or as high as 2 million. We’ll break 120,000 in a few days from now.

The daily numbers were going down for a while. But right around Memorial Day weekend, they started going back up again. It remains to be seen whether the second hump will be bigger or smaller than the first one.